The hype surrounding the Super Rugby Pacific kicking off was as exciting as an Aussie rugby fan could remember – and it well and truly delivered.
Round one taught us that rugby can be joyous again, and that there are some brilliant players Wallabies fans can finally get excited about for the future.
From Magic Max to the electric Blues and a joyous Pasifika derby, here’s what Daily Mail Australia learned from the opening round, broadcast live on Stan Sport, of the season. Spoiler: WE LOVED IT.
Stunning careers are in store for Magic Max and a teary Lynagh
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to these two sons-of-guns: Max Jorgensen and Tom Lynagh.
A delighted Max Jorgensen scored a brilliant try in his Super Rugby debut, and promises to have a glittering career in Aussie rugby if Friday’s clash is anything to go off
The winger – son of NRL cult figure Peter – scored two tries in the Waratahs’ loss to the Brumbies
18-year-old Magic Max has been hyped as a potential superstar for several years now, and the son of ex-NRL star Peter – one of the great proponents of try celebrations – certainly lived up to the hype in his debut.
The prodigy scored two tries from the wing in a stunning debut performance, burning past Wallabies stars Rob Valetini and Allan Alaalatoa for a brilliant first Super Rugby try. He then followed it up with an expert to a crisp backline move.
With 90 metres and four clean breaks, the sky is the limit for Magic Max. He is such an exciting prospect for Australian rugby.
‘Feels unreal to pull on the sky blue for the first time, especially in front of a home crowd, in front of my friends and family, doing them proud. It’s just an amazing feeling,’ an elated Jorgensen said after the game.
‘I’m getting more confident every game I play and I’m always backing myself, so there’s no doubt in my mind.’
He wasn’t the son-of-a-gun to stamp their authority on the opening round. Lynagh, son of all-time Wallabies legend Michael, proved the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as he put in an assured performance in the no. 10 jersey – the position his dad dominated at for a decade.
As well as kicking two penalties, the 19-year-old rookie set up the Reds only try with a smart cross-field chip. He was also very strong in defence, despite still growing into his frame.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Tom Lynagh (left), the son of Wallabies legend Michael, made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds
Reds skipper Tate McDermott said his halves partner was ‘a ripper’.
‘He (Lynagh) was really impressive. That’s all we asked him to do, be loud and he was loud in spades and kicked really well,’ he said after the game.
‘For someone that young being that courageous in this environment, my hat goes off to him and we’ve just got to do better as a side to support him.’
Shock, horror – the rule tweaks might have ACTUALLY WORKED
With rugby slower than ever before and fans continually frustrated by poor refereeing decision or send-offs that were affecting the outcome of games, Super Rugby Pacific organisers knew they had to change something.
With Sevens more popular than ever before and some matches from the international season played more at a lawn bowls pace than rugby, it was clear the ball needed to be in play more.
But an approach of continually tinkering like the AFL maddeningly do – to the chagrin of fans – was not going to work.
This needed to be meaningful change with the primary purpose of getting players playing more – and coaches widely agree it has done that.
There is now a strict time limit on scrums, set pieces and goals, while there is no longer continual meddling from the television match official (TMO) or dishing out yellow and red cards like a blackjack dealer.
The new rule changes reaped immediate reward in the Western Force v Melbourne Rebels game, with play flowing much faster
Simon Cron marshalls the troops in his first game as Force coach. The mentor is a huge fan of the recent rule changes
Matches in the opening round were, collectively, the most exciting in recent memory, and Force coach Simon Cron is a huge fan of the rule changes.
‘I love the rule changes they’ve made,’ he said after his side’s impressive comeback win over the Rebels.
‘More ball in play time, it gets people set faster. I used to have a heart attack when people were doing shoelaces up on the way to the scrum.
‘Why slow it down? I’m a big fan of the game speeding up, and as a supporter or people watching it, they don’t want to watch someone tie shoelaces.’
And boy, was the play fluid! Rugby finally delivering on the age-old boast that it’s the game they play in heaven.
To kick off the opening round, the Chiefs played some scintillating second-half footy to get over the Crusaders, before the Tahs and Brumbies . Don’t even get us started on the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika 70-point thriller
It was a veritable smorgasbord.
Despite losing to Cron’s Force, Rebels coach Kevin Foote couldn’t help but share his love of the rule changes.
‘It’s good for the game, it’s an exciting brand. I think it’s exceptional,’ he told reporters after the game.
‘I think the rugby we’ve seen this weekend has been really good, and it’s going to speed the game up, which is awesome.’
Cult hero Jeremy Thrush’s surprise return was the story of the round
Cult figure Jeremy Thrush made an retirement u-turn after answering an SOS from Force coach Simon Cron – to immediate effect
The ever-popular ex-All Black Jeremy Thrush made a surprise retirement backflip at the request of Cron after an injury crisis in the Force forward pack; and despite having just two weeks of training under his belt he dominated.
The Hurricanes legend is coaching with the Force’s academy in addition to a grassroots in Perth, and the 37-year-old picked up right where he left off after spending the final years of his career at the club.
Not only did the lock make an immediate impact off the bench, he capped off his performance by scoring the match-winning try against the Rebels with just minutes on the clock.
There’s a chance he could spend the entire rest of the season at the club despite juggling his many coaching commitments, and Cron told reporters he was very keen for it to happen.
‘He could even start, he’s good enough. He’ll be bigger and better for that hit-out. I think I’ll be massaging his calves so he gets through the week,’ he said.
There’s a reason why the Blues are favourites to win the comp
Caleb Clark celebrates one of the Blues eight tries in their complete drubbing over the Highlanders
The Blues are currently the $2.50 (TAB.com.au) favourites to win the title – and with good reason.
Leon MacDonald’s men put on an absolute clinic to smash the Highlanders 60-20 – and that’s despite spending 20 minutes of the game with only 14 men.
Last year’s runners-up got off to a lightning start, leading 31-6 with just 28 minutes on the clock, and they kept the foot on the accelerator.
The fact the side had 13 All Blacks in their team underlines the huge starpower the Auckland-based club has, with their brilliant counter-attacking laying the platform for the drubbing.
Mark Telea was brilliant on the wing, tearing the Highlanders apart time after time on his way to a double, while flyhalf Beauden Barrett was at his customary best, scoring one try and banging home seven goals.
Look out, world.
And it would’ve been 67-20 if AJ Lam didn’t pull out one of the all-time great try stuff-ups. It was harder to fumble than score the try.
Not his best effort.
Ex-Sevens star Corey Toole’s effort might go down as the best non-try of the year
Corey Toole was making his Super Rugby debut after making the move over from Sevens, and the 22-year-old Brumbies winger made an immediate impression.
In one particularly incredible bit of play, the 85kg speedster tore down the left touchline, beating four Waratahs defenders before unleashing a no-look flick pass to Rob Valentini, who went over to score.
It was eventually overturned after Toole’s boot just grazed a blade of white grass, but the play itself showed off his speed and footy instincts, and will no doubt have excited Brumbies fands.
Sevens convert Corey Toole was brilliant in his Super Rugby debut, and provided one of the highlights of the game
It was just one highlight in a strong match for Toole, who represented Australia at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
He showed off his silky skills when catching a towering bomb and flicking off a pass in the one motion, before capping off the exciting win with a try in the 58th minute; one that would prove to be the match-winner.
The chaotic end to Pasifika vs Drua was absolutely EVERYTHING
If you need a smile on your dial, just look at the extreme joy Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua brought to their clash in Auckland on Saturday afternoon.
It was almost like a game of Sevens, such was the brilliant skills and miracle passes on display.
Take Iosefo Masi’s first-ever try in his Super Rugby debut for example.
Your eyeballs will be spinning as you try to to keep up with where the ball is, with a flurry of passes and a brilliant run by Joseva Tamani to bulldoze over multiple defender then finished off by the speedy debutant.
Tevita Ikanivere leads the Fijian Drua in a chilling war cry before their clash against Moana Pasifika
Selestino Ravutaumada, who set up the match-winning try for Drua, was emotional when reacting to the team’s victory
It’s exactly what Super Rugby needed. It’s just beautiful to watch. The war cries before the game were captivating, too. The more we can learn about and appreciate Pasifika culture the better off rugby will be.
Of course the best moment of the game came with just two minutes left on the clock when Drua scored what would prove to be the match-winning try through .
A sweeping backline move and more miracle passes found Selestino Ravutaumada on the right touchline, with the rampaging winger bursting through three defenders before flicking the ball onto Taniela Rakuro.
With ex-Brumbies star Christian Leali’ifano coming across in cover, Rakuro slipped, before rolling over a few times and bashing the ball down out wide – much to the delight of his ecstatic teammates.
Chaotic. Joyous. Rugby at it’s finest.
Watch every Super Rugby game and Test match, ad-free, live and on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport.
Source of data and images: dailymail
The post Six things we learned from the opening round of Super Rugby Pacific from rookies to cult heroes first appeared on Elrisala.
The hype surrounding the Super Rugby Pacific kicking off was as exciting as an Aussie rugby fan could remember – and it well and truly delivered. Round one taught us that rugby can be joyous again, and that there are some brilliant players Wallabies fans can finally get excited about for the future. From Magic …
The post Six things we learned from the opening round of Super Rugby Pacific from rookies to cult heroes first appeared on Elrisala. Sports – Elrisala